How to write a good CV
A CV (also known as a resumé) is when you have written down a summary of your education, career history and skills. It’s what most employers will ask for when you apply for a job as it gives them an idea of your skills and whether you are the right fit for them. A CV is the first impression you make on potential employers, so you want to stand out and be impressive! It’s important to get your CV right to help you get through to the interview stage.
We’ve got some tips on how to write a good CV that will catch an employer’s eye and get you one step closer to getting the job. And to get you started, and hold your hand along the way, here is a great video on creating a CV.
Use a template
Being faced with a blank screen can be intimidating, even to seasoned authors like Stephen King. So here’s a top tip – don’t start with a blank screen, start with a template instead! A great way to get started is to use a CV Template which has already laid out how your CV will look – all you need to do is fill in your details.
CVs are expected to have certain sections, for example contact details, education history, employment history and somewhere you can write about additional skills you may have that are relevant to the job. A template will mean you won’t forget to put any of these into your application.
There are plenty of CV templates available online, which you can download and edit. CV Library, for example, offers free template downloads suitable for many different jobs and stages of your career. Another example, if you want to create a traditional CV you can save, print and email to potential employers, here are some great free CV templates. Alternatively, users of a professional network, like LinkedIn, might wish to use their Resume Builder. We would advise you to do both. You want your CV to be personable and on hand to print for interviews. But you also want to be visible online, so that potential employers can research you ahead.
A CV template ensures that your document will look professional and that you don’t miss out any important sections by mistake.
CV Design & Layout
Adding a bit of design to your CV through these suggested templates will help you to stand out from the crowd. And, it also shows initiative, that you take care and pride in your work. Remember, your CV may be one of hundreds in a pile, so you want to stand out quickly. So, start with a quick, snappy intro. At this stage, employers want to know about your abilities, experience and passion for the role. And your work ethos. Qualifications, hobbies and work experience come next after you have hooked them in. Sum up in no more than a short paragraph who you are and why you are the best candidate.
A word of warning though – being too different is not always a good idea. Employers expect professional documents, so if you submit a CV on pink frilly paper and use comic sans font, you might not get taken as seriously as you would like as a candidate. Whilst you might stand out, it might not be for the reason that you hope!
What to include in a CV
What to include in a CV is different, depending on how many qualifications and what training you have, how much work experience you have and what stage you’re at in your career. But here is a general guide of what to put in. Remember, a CV should be no more than two or three pages long. So use bullet points to summarize your information.
Personal details – Always start the page with your personal details at the top. This includes your full name, email and phone number. And possibly your address so you can easily be contacted or written to.
Profile – As mentioned above, it’s a good idea to include a short introductory paragraph, which summarises your skills and experience. You can tailor this to each individual job, highlighting the most relevant information. To do this, look at yourself as others might see you. Don’t be shy, you will have more to offer than you think. A CV is the chance to sell yourself. So we advise asking friends and family for help with this. Other people will recognise skills in you that you may have missed.
Career history – List any previous positions you have held in date order, starting with the most recent. Give details of each company, your job title, how long you worked there and what your main responsibilities were. Bullet point your skills and experiences here and how it has contributed to your learning. Be positive and upbeat in your lists.
Education – List any qualifications you have and the grades received, starting with the most recent. For example University Degrees, Diplomas, Highers, National 5s. Also include any relevant training. And don’t worry too much about this. Employers are interested in you, your skills and your motivation. They want to know more about your contribution to their business and team as a whole.
Achievements and Hobbies– Here you can list any further skills and achievements which may be useful to your role. Also, a sentence or two on your hobbies can be very helpful to employers. It gives them more of an insight to who you are as a person and enables them to build a more rounded understanding of who you are and how you would fit in their team. But be careful what you say. As you don’t know how the person reading your CV will relate to your hobbies. So, if you have concerns, listing no hobbies may be better.
Things To Avoid In CV Writing
Long passive phrases: Be careful not to put your potential employer to sleep. So, this means when writing a CV, you must write in the present tense. And get to the point quickly, whilst including lots of active words.
Unrealistic accomplishments: Be realistic about your abilities and skills. And don’t over-exaggerate how perfect you are. Employers will see through this. And remember they are trying to get to know you… not a robot or Mr/Mrs perfect! No one is an expert in everything and no one is perfect. So, don’t be afraid to mention a few weaknesses – it shows strength in a person. And remember: whatever you say on your CV regarding skills and experience, you’ll have to demonstrate in the interview.
Overly technical information and jargon: Include what you know to be relevant to the position you are applying for, but don’t complicate your CV with jargon and technical detail.
Good Words To Use In A CV
Here are some positive upbeat words you could include in your CV – but remember, only use the ones applicable to you and your skills. Whatever words you use, just remember to be upbeat and positive in your wording.
- Great attention to detail
- Good with people
- Positive communicator
- Calming or Energising influence
Always read through your CV carefully before sending it out. Check everything is clearly laid out and look for spelling mistakes. You could ask a friend or family member to check it over too. Or use a grammar and spelling tool such as Grammarly. Here you simply download this tool onto your computer – you need to do this for your internet browser and for Word.
Further employment help
If you need any help when applying for a job or further employment advice, including benefits you may be entitled to while job hunting, your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help. Residents of East Dunbartonshire can contact us here. You could also contact local East Dunbartonshire services Skills Development Scotland and Adult Learning and Employability.
So if you are job hunting and looking for more guidance on how to write a good CV, make an appointment with us at your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau. We can offer advice on how to find your dream job – and then get it!Contact us